“Venice in 1 day with the kids?” you shriek in disbelief that it can be done.
“Yes.” is my knowledgeable reply as that is exactly what we did this summer whilst staying on Lake Garda.
We (Megan and I) decided that as a special treat for the girls (aged 9 – 10), we’d catch a train from Verona and spend one day in Venice.
Having lived in Italy for almost 20 years, I was well aware of the cost of a day trip to Venice and to keep our expenditure down our first decision was to take a packed lunch and drinks with us. We checked the train times and we booked a return ‘regionale’ online. (This saved us our first euros as tickets are slightly cheaper online and we found a great Family Deal).
The girls were delighted to see that our ‘very reasonably priced train’ was a double-decker and insisted on sitting upstairs. It is incredibly comfortable and clean – that’s until you visit the toilets – don’t go unless you really have to is my advice!
An inspector will be along to check your tickets but, if you’ve booked online, you’ll have an email with a QR code which they can scan. The journey from Verona to Venice takes about 1 1/2 hours and arrives slap bang in the centre. the perfect starting point.
Getting around Venice with kids
Another decision we had made during the planning stage was to invest in a ticket for the vaporetto. At first glance, this might seem an outrageous expense but contrary to belief, Venice is enormous and the islands surrounding are quite a distance away. This is the part we hadn’t looked into booking online and my advice would be to do so if you can as it will save a lot of time. There are various options to choose from and we went for the 1-day inclusive pass. It cost about €20 each (there are no differences between children and adults) but it allowed us to travel anywhere at any time for 24 hours and you really will make the most of it.
The Grand Canal
Our first vaporetto experience was on the Grand Canal. We caught the water bus from the ticket office and we cruised leisurely down the Grand Canal stopping off at all of the stops along the way. As we were first on, we had great seats at the back of the boat in the open part and this allowed the girls to take in the unique beauty of Venice. We stared in awe as we passed the most beautiful buildings lining the canal. I didn’t even bother starting with the history or cultural information and just allowed the girls to enjoy everything they could take in around them.
Trust me, that’s not all of my photos but you get the idea!
Piazza San Marco
Our decision was to stop off at Piazza San Marco and take a walk through the alleyways from the ferry stop to the main square. There is also a public toilet closeby which came in very handy. We walked through the bustling lanes taking in Valentino, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana shop fronts. We were mesmerised with the elite fashion around us. I looked up ahead and through an archway and took in my first glimpse that day of San Marco Square, it really does make your heart beat faster. We walked the girls towards the entrance, Megan was already bubbling with excitement and I took their reactions in as they walked onto one of the most beautiful and iconic squares in the world.
The girls were awestruck. The marvel of what they were taking in stamped on their tiny faces. Piazza San Marco is enormous, as we stepped through the archway onto the square which was relatively empty we walked over to the centre so to get a good view of the place.
There was an orchestra playing to filled tables outside one of the cafes, queues of people lining up to visit the iconic buildings around the edge and hundreds of tourists vying for the best Selfie spot. The girls got their phones out and joined in taking photos left right and centre. All I could hear was ‘Wow’ and ‘Look mum!’
We strolled through the square up to the cathedral and round to the Doge’s’s Palace. We didn’t want to lose any of our precious time queueing for visits but vowed to return with them one day and make time to visit the beautiful buildings and learn the history.
We crossed a bridge and took a photo of the Bridge of Sighs and just a bit further along was the ferry point for the crossing to Murano and Burano.
Burano – the colourful island of Venice
We knew that we wouldn’t be able to do a lot of walking as the little people could only handle so much and Venice is BIG. So on the advice of one of Megan’s friend’s who lives in Venice we had to choose between Murano – the island of the glass blowing or Burano – the colourful island adored on Instagram.
We jumped on the ferry (included in our 1-day Vaporetto ticket) and sat down to enjoy the 45-minute journey. It’s the perfect time to tuck into your picnic and the girls were able to roam the ferry safely and report back on their findings.
Burano will catch your attention before landing as the Vaporetto makes its way along the coastline towards the doc. The island is a burst of colour in the middle of the blue lagoon. The individually painted houses are one brighter than the next all crying out for your attention. We docked quickly and without a map, we started walking to the centre.
Burano is the island of lace and there are plenty of shops to invest in local pieces costing form a €5 bookmark to €???? tablecloths, dresses and fine art.
As you head towards the centre you quickly discover the island is crisscrossed with canals which in turn are adorned with brightly painted boats. Burano must be the birthplace of the rainbow there isn’t a surface on the island that hasn’t seen a paintbrush.
We treated ourselves to a drink/ice cream in one of the squares and then had to walk very quickly back to the dock so as not to miss our ferry. We were incredibly sad to leave and have vowed to book a room on the island next time.
From the dock to the station
A word of advice is not to underestimate the walk from the dock where the boat deposits you back to the station. The beauty of the cheap ticket is the price but if you fail to catch your train, you will have to pay extra and on top of our super expenditure, that’s one thing we wanted to avoid.
It’s a half an hour walk and Megan, with Google maps on her phone, walked us through the alleys towards the station. She did such a great job we were able to enjoy an Aperol Spritz/coca cola before catching the train.
Saving money tips for a day in Venice
Book your train tickets online, there are some fantastic deals to be had.
Take a packed lunch and bottles of water – each of the girls carried their own small water bottle which we would fill at the water fountains.
Book any entrance tickets and times to popular tourist sights online, you’ll be able to walk right in and avoid the queues.
This experience is one that has stayed with the girls. They say it was the best part of their summer holiday this year and one of the best things they have ever done.
Read also: Paris in one day